Currently viewing the category: "Lifeline"

Last week the topic at a meeting I was attending was “principals before personalities”. This led to sharing on being judgmental, our most common defect of character. It’s been said that after Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, things became exactly that for us: Bad or good, I like it, I don’t like it… and then we suffered. The Dali Lama once said: “The absence of judgment is love. “This is true for us; this is a program of brotherly love. We practice this in the steps, especially when we listen to another’s 5th step. We can listen without judging. This is where we convey to them that, like us, they are not their past. We point out how their greatest limitations become an opening to a relationship with a Higher Power.

I had a related experience this week. During a meditation meeting, we were instructed to picture someone we had trouble with, generate love, then give it to them. Hard to do, so we started with the love we had for a pet – or something along these lines. I had been walking around with a broken heart, which I thought I had come to terms with for two years. Because of the actions this person had done, whenever I thought of them, the story of what they did and the judgment about what they had done was inseparable. During the meditation (which is really just a visualization of the prayer found on page 67 or in the story “Freedom from Bondage” (both found in the Big Book) the story fell away along with the judgment surrounding it. I had a new feeling of love for this person. Freedom! Along with this freedom, came the ability to maintain or not maintain the relationship in a way that would be healthy for both of us.

The absence of the story is the absence of judgment. The absence of judgment is love.

By: Quiet Time Mediation Member

 

 

The day before I got sober I learned that every time I tried to help someone I ended up hurting them in some way.  The shock of this led me to look at myself in a light I had previously thought only applied to the destitute and lost souls of the world.  It turned out I might be one of them.

Many months later I raised my hand to sponsor for the first time.  Proudest moment of my life.  It seemed like such a small thing, raising my hand, but it said so much about what had happened to me through recovery.  I was qualified, whatever that means, to help someone rebuild a life.  I had experience I could point to when saying “I know the way out”.

None of the men I’ve sponsored have stayed sober, at least in the go around where we worked together.  One passed away from an overdose.  Most just fade into the background.  I used to blame myself because that’s what I do.  But I didn’t put the bottle in anyone’s hand; I didn’t jam a needle anywhere.

I’ve been a proxy sponsor for some.  I think it means I help them work through some stuff without pulling out the big guns of Sponsor.  I have learned when to listen, how to wait for a question before giving advice, how to guard against crazy.

I know the first few chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous very well, especially “The Doctor’s Opinion”.  This means I have a firm grasp of my disease, of how to distance myself from the shame and guilt.  Every sponsee brings new stories of how things might have been, how they could become, if I forget that there is something inside me too powerful to contend with, that the only way to win is to deny the battle.

Sobriety is freely offered, and it must be freely taken.  I do my best to let people fail on their own terms and to be there when they find the cold too bitter.  I’ve stayed sober almost 5 years.  That has to count for something.

—Jonathan H.

 

Tagged with:
 

After we take the preceding step of becoming willing to let our Creator take all of our defects of character, step 7 directs us to take the action of asking our Higher Power to remove them. It is in moving from the hopeful place of willingness, to the humble, faithful place of action, that step 7 takes hold.

The seventh step prayer, found on page 76 of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous reads: “My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do Your bidding. Amen.”

The seventh step prayer, as it was explained to me, is a continuation of the third step prayer, found on page 63 of the big book. The third step prayer opens a channel of communication with our Higher Power wherein we offer ourselves over to our Higher Power, for It to do with us as It will. We ask for release from the “bondage of self,” or from our selfishness, so that we can better be of service to God and world about us. The seventh step prayer acknowledges that there are several layers of self-will (or several types of character defects) that block us from “the sunlight of the Spirit.”

One of my favorite things about this prayer, this tool in my spiritual toolkit, is that it is written in present tense.  As such, any time I experience some crippling character defects creeping in, I can give them over to God and ask for inspiration on how to proceed. So, when that old thinking crops up causing me to feel fearful, self-seeking, self-pitying, angry, lazy or the like, I can call on my Higher Power to remove the defects of character and give me strength to take the next right action (just the opposite of what I feel like doing). Time and again, this action of surrendering my difficulties over to my Higher Power saves the day.

I will close by sharing a hidden gem that can be found on page 68 of the big book, known as the fear prayer: “We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.” The simplicity and effectiveness of this tool has allowed me to walk through situations that would have terrified me, with grace and ease, and it has helped me to reach out to newcomers who are feeling even more frightened and alone. By simply taking the action of surrendering my self-centered fears, I can realize my real purpose, “to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p77)

By Sara L.

 

Tagged with:
 

Greetings, Salt Lake Central Office!

Our impossible experiment continues to thrive, the members of our community have taken full ownership and are having fun doing it. The breakfast on June 8 was well attended and very delicious, thanks to the seasoned chefs on hand. Do not miss the annual picnic on August 8 at Germania Park, it’s even better.

I have some sad news, our past Cooperation with the Professional Community Chair, Jeff M, passed away on June 1. His passion and love for this program will be missed.
Thanks go to Allison for stepping up to serve as the 12th Step Chair, one of our most vital services. Please help her by providing names and numbers of those in your groups willing to take 12th Step calls and make visits.

The opportunities to serve continue to be plentiful. Currently, the Public Information, Cooperation with the Professional Community and as of this morning, Treatment Committees all need Chairs. The term will end in December of this year, this is a great way to try out a service position without a 2-year commitment.
Our next business meeting is July 8, all are welcome, and it doesn’t hurt a bit.

In loving service, Wendy

Tagged with:
 

Greetings Salt Lake Central Office! Warmth has generated some activity around the CO, including an exterior shrubectomy by the landlord. There’s been another spate of chairectomies as well, our open positions include Public Information, Cooperation with the Professional Community, Twelfth Step and Bylaws. These positions will all rotate in December, so if you’d like a service test run, now’s the opportunity.

A big Thank You to Shelly G for striding into the Secretary position. Her skills will be well appreciated, especially by the trustees who have been taking Secretary duty, thanks Mike O and Jason R for filling in.

The Bylaws ad hoc Committee has submitted their recommendation for changes, it’s a sleek, efficient model with a few big changes and lots of little ones. It’s available online along with the old version, and will be discussed and voted on at the June 10, 2014, CO Committee meeting.

The Annual Breakfast will be in Sugar House park this year on Sunday, June 8, looking forward to that. The best parts of the event are the meeting before and after, so come out and help set up and take down, all the cool kids are doing it.

I’m loving the energy at the CO when I come in on Saturday, there’s a sense of ownership by the members, which is as it should be. We serve together to help those not yet reached, and those fortunate enough to be here. Gratitude is an action, not a feeling. If you’re grateful to be living a sober life, come on down to the CO and express it.

—See you there, ww

 

 

In our 12 Steps and 12 Traditions book, the first thing it says on this matter is, “this is the step that separates the men from the boys.” I can’t tell you how frustrated I was upon reading that the first time. “How can these people judge me as not being a man?” I thought, “I’ve done so much work up to this point, there is no reason for this criticism. I’ll do a Step 6 when I’m ready. This book doesn’t have one up on me, and this motivation tactic is a flawed one.”

Surely some of you old timers reading this can see the hilariousness of this alcoholic irony. My thinking was still in a place where it needed DESPERATE help and love from the program of alcoholics anonymous. I had the character defect of pride dancing throughout my mind, and it was still preventing me from moving forward. I embraced it to an extent, because by holding on to it, and building a case against this step, I was able to have my will-power back. To a mind dealing with uncured alcoholism, what a treat this was!

We AA’s have a tendency to live a double-life. Exercising our will in the shadows gives us a feeling of “living on the edge”, an exciting place to be, but dangerously fatal. We feed our ego again this way, fueling the same beast that landed us in these rooms in the first place.

Up to this step, i had had a wonderfully freeing experience of raising the white flag and admitting i couldn’t go on fighting, finding a power greater than myself, and committing my new life to him, laying out my inventory in black and white, and sharing it with another human that I had trusted and well as God. It still wasn’t until I did this Step that I realized how the nooks and crannies of my alcoholism were still glossed over as unwilling. Not because of a desire to not do the steps, but because of the sheer power of how badly this disease had locked me into selfishness.

By the grace of God, however, once this was pointed out to me, it was obvious how desperately I needed this 6th step, and how much I still needed, need, and desire to grow. By offering myself to this Higher Power, the good, the bad, and the ugly, I emerged on the other side a stronger individual, with a keener eye into the dark caverns of my own alcoholism. God makes this possible. The question poised in the Big Book: “Can He now take them all – every one?” is a simple answer. Yes.  God also helps me use these character defects to light a path to ones I didn’t know existed within me. The rabbit hole is deep, but with God’s help, and willingness, it has a bottom that is not nearly as low as the one I used to live in. I am so grateful to share my experience with this step. I am truly blessed to have gone into Step 6 a boy, and to have emerged a man.

—Eric M

 

Tagged with:
 

“We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all, everyone? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.” A.A. Big Book p.76

Wow!  What a tall order for a woman like me.  How do I accomplish such a task?

Thank God the Steps are in order for a reason.  Steps 1 – 3 were about my acceptance and belief.  Steps 4 & 5 were about the discovery of the trend in my character defects.  Now, in Step 6 – I have become “entirely willing” to have a God, of my understanding, help me to be rid of them entirely.

Really?  How does this work in my crazy mind?  My experience is I had to take a look at what was driving my character defects?  Why was I angry?  Why was I judging the people around me?  Why was I envious of my friends?  Why did I want what others had to make me happy?  For me, at the end of the day, it all came down to fear.  I was an insecure little girl, scared to do life.  Once I realized the root of my character defects, it was recommended to me, by my sponsor, that every morning when I wake up I should ask myself this question…. Am I Ready To Do Business Today?  Am I ready to be “entirely willing” to have God, as I understand him, remove all my character defects?  Thank God for me this is progress not perfection.

With this in mind, I believe I have two choices today:

1). To actively seek and practice in a new way of living and thinking or 2). To wait until I am in so much pain that the choice becomes obvious, and then choose to participate only enough to get the pain to stop for a while.  I have had experience with both.

Today and on the days that I choose #1, something amazing happens!  I am able to get quite, invite God into my day, ask him to remove my character defects, and for me to stay out of the way. Then, I get to enjoy a happy, joyous, and free day!

I am grateful that I can choose to take the best possible attitude each day towards becoming a better me.  Step 6 is a lifetime job and I have the opportunity each day to work towards the woman God wants me to be.

My Heart Is Smiling today and I owe it all to God, the Steps of AA, and amazing sponsorship.  I am truly blessed to have a super Awesome life!

So, What Step 6 is to me?  It is the AA Spiritual Key – The Key to Willingness!

You Don’t Want To Miss It!

Much Love, Kimmi S

 

Tagged with: